By Pastor Aaron Cole
“Break up your fallow ground!” Ring the words of God through the prophet Hosea. Two hundred years later the voice of Jeremiah cries out with uniform urgency, “Break up your fallow ground!”. As you can imagine, this was a striking illustration for a nation so intimately familiar with the infinitesimal details associated with agronomics. The people of the Northern and Southern kingdoms must have understood this warning in its fullness; after all, this is language they can understand. They knew that neglected plots of land yield only thistles and thorns. They knew that hard packed ground did not plow itself; that the birds of the air would devour any seed that may by chance fall before it could take root. These farmers understood the analogy all too well. This was their livelihood. The people of Israel and Judah understood what was being demanded of them.
As followers of Jesus Christ we too adhere to the same command. We must harrow the ground of our hearts. Remove the rocks and debris. We are asked to clear the brush, pull the weeds and prepare the soil for the planting of the Word. As we allow God to water the seed that has been planted in our hearts, it is our duty to be vigilant against the worries of life, deceitfulness of wealth, and the desire for other things that can choke the Word and result in unfruitfulness. It is paramount that we cultivate good soil so that we can reap the harvest. This transformation is often dramatic in the life of a newly devoted follower of Jesus, and then once first fruits have bore, the workman becomes complacent. Success has been achieved and a harvest has been brought forth.
The foolish rest and trust in their achievements, quietly deceived by the illusion of righteousness in their own lives. I understand it; I’ve been there. We have all been there. Then, in the blink of an eye, the tempest roars and we brace ourselves against the memory of our past success, only to discover after the tumult has ceased the devastation bestowed upon our once beautiful estate. What was once a perfectly manicured parcel has become overgrown and neglected. The little foxes have spoiled the vineyard.
What you and I have learned by heuristic means, the original audience would have gleaned intrinsically from years of agricultural experience. The people of Israel and Judah were aware that even though they had meticulously plowed their field one season, the next season the same plot would require an equal amount of work to yield an identical harvest. “Break up your fallow ground.” The word “fallow” denotes an uncultured plot of land with the implication that at one point the land had already been cultivated. A verse often relegated to those in the early stages of their faith is actually a call to action aimed squarely at the seasoned disciple. A requirement of our perpetual pursuit of righteousness is the constant upkeep of every area of our hearts. An area that I have plowed and seeded may in time become overgrown and revert into a state of neglect. We who know the Word and study diligently are constantly reminded to stay vigilant, to be watchful and to sow righteousness. We are the ones most susceptible to the vitriol of complacency. After all, comfort is caustic.
Aaron Cole is the Senior Pastor of Life Church (www.lifechurchwi.com) in Wisconsin. You can follow Aaron on Twitter at (@aaroncolelc).